Raja vs Raja sir: What if Thyagaraja comes alive & goes Ilayaraja way?

Is it fair for a musical legend like Ilayaraja to claim a share in the profit of a concert where his songs are performed? This is the question that keeps circulating on social media after the maestro released a video regarding copyright and royalty recently.

Ilayaraja had said, “If you wish to sing and perform my songs on stage without prior intimation, you are liable for legal action. This also includes people who play my music in instruments. And you all have to realise this is wrong. If you’re singing my songs for free, then you won’t have to pay me. But, if you are earning money by singing my songs, what is wrong in me asking a share of it? When the song itself is mine, how can you deny my share? After all, it is a small amount and I do all these to legalise things.”

With December music season on, let’s imagine this situation: Saint Thyagaraja comes alive. What if decides to toe Ilayaraja’s line? Thyagayya releases a video on his Twitter handle that says Carnatic  vocalists who wish to sing or perform his krithis on stage without prior information are liable for legal action. When the song itself is mine, how can you deny a share?

Shocked musicians run from pillar to post. And those slated to perform at sabhas in and round T Nagar immediately rushed to Thyagaraja(n)’s house nearby only to realise that he is not ‘Master of Melakarthas’ but our beloved ‘Malayoor Mambattiyan’, whose only achievement in music was to shake his legs in ultra slow motion for perhaps the most racy number ever in Tamil cinema  – Adiyae Manam Nilluna Nikathadi.

Speaking of T Nagar, it has rich musical tradition. Not just plenty of sabhas, here lives composer Ilayaraja. A few streets away from his is the residence of Thenisai Thendral Deva, a pioneer of Gaana songs in cinema, who was appropriately appointed as chairman for IyalIsaiNataka Manram  for his works by the State government not once but for two terms.

And the neighbourhood has had a welcome addition recently in the form of Kuralarasan, son of legendary T RajendherKural’s biggest achievement in music so far has been a slew of interviews in half-a-dozen magazines that he is all set for an international music album besides venturing into  Bollywood and later storming Kollywood with his earth-shattering music. He was funnily serious indeed! Thankfully, he just stopped with it. And luckily the songs were not released yet.

Coming back to the sabhas, musicians burnt midnight oil to figure out what will happen if there are no Thyagaraja krithis in their concerts. And T M Krishna was flooded with messages for help. You know why. And the mamas and mamis with the left over morkali at the canteens discussed whether   Thyagaraja was right or wrong.

Meanwhile, a battery of TV journalists have stormed Thiruvaiyaru for quick reaction from Thyagaraja. The latest flash news is that they are waiting for a breaking news on further developments at  Thyagaraja’s house.

A few television channels have announced debates with artistes straight out of the sabhas after performing marathon concerts to a packed house with a dozen audience, on the topic – Raja Vs Raja sir. Well, as we wait for further outcome, here came fresh news – Thyagaraja has sued Ilayaraja for coming out with film songs inspired by his krithis. A battle royale.

M BHARAT KUMAR